Reviews, be they reviews of movies, music, books, games, or whatever, are sometimes a controversial subject matter. Reviews have been kind of a touchy subject around here so I felt like it would be a good idea to take an objective look at them and what they have to offer.
So what are reviews exactly anyway? In this case the word review has the following definition:
A report that gives someone's opinion about the quality of a book, performance, product, etc.
So really review is just a fancy way of saying opinion, sort of. A review is basically a well researched and thought out opinion on something. But what is the purpose of a review? Beyond simply telling the reviewer's opinion on something it can help others determine if they want to invest time or money in it.
Reviews can be very helpful when deciding to go see a movie, or play a game, or buy a product, especially in greater numbers. As you read more and more reviews of a certain thing, you start to see common trends emerge. Lot's of people will like/dislike the same aspects of the subject of the review and the less common opinions will be more apparent.
Unfortunately, a lot of the time it is hard to find well researched and thought out reviews and you only end up with one or two that are actually helpful. This leads to the issue of not being able to get a good sense of whether or not something is worthwhile.
The biggest pitfall people run into with reviews is taking them as the final word on the matter, forgetting that reviews are actually just opinions. When reading a review the best thing to do is take them with a grain of salt. For all you know you're opinion on the matter may be entirely different from the reviewer's. Maybe a reviewer said something was good and you didn't like it. Or maybe a reviewer said something was horrible so you never gave it a shot even if you may have actually enjoyed it.
All the typical subjects of reviews, books, movies, games, etc., do have aspects that can be objectively good or bad such as a game being able to run, but they also have a ton of subjective aspects that are not so easily described as being good or bad. Now this doesn't mean you shouldn't take a review seriously. If a reviewer did a good job, they put a lot of thought and research into their opinion so it does have merit to it. But in the end it is still just an opinion and should be taken with a grain of salt.